Preview: Missouri to play No. 4 Kentucky

The Tigers, who lost on the road to Ole Miss Tuesday, will have to take on a Wildcat team who snapped the 19-game win streak of the former No. 1 team in the nation.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari watches the UK vs. Mississippi State game at Rupp Arena on January 22, 2019, in Lexington, Kentucky. The Wildcats beat the Bulldogs 76-55. Michael Clubb/Kentucky Kernel

No. 4 Kentucky bested Tennessee 86-69 on Saturday night, dropping the former No. 1 Volunteers to the No. 5 spot in this week’s AP top-25. It was Tennessee’s first conference loss and snapped a 19-game win streak which included two wins over Missouri.

Missouri (12-12, 3-9) will face Kentucky (21-4, 10-2) for the first time this season on Tuesday night at Mizzou Arena.

The Tigers’ most recent visit to Knoxville, Tennessee on Feb. 5 resulted in a loss to the then-No. 1 ranked Vols, 72-60.

“[Missouri] played at Tennessee and had their chances and did a great job in a hostile environment,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said in a teleconference. “We know that they’re good enough to beat us.”

The Tigers are returning home after dropping a 75-65 road loss to Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon.

In the loss, Mark Smith made his return after missing six games with an ankle injury. The sophomore guard hit one triple and collected four rebounds in 14 minutes on the court. He currently shoots 47.1 percent from behind the arc, the highest in the SEC.

Sophomore Jeremiah Tilmon ran into foul trouble against the Rebels, accumulating five fouls in 15 minutes. It was his first time fouling out since Jan. 23 against Arkansas. In the five games between Arkansas and Ole Miss, Tilmon averaged 15.6 points per game. He scored just 4 points on Tuesday night.

“I think [Tilmon’s] done a great job,” coach Cuonzo Martin said. “I thought, when he fouled out against Ole Miss, it was the first time in his career I think where he fouled out and he got about three fouls because our perimeter guys broke down and didn’t help him. He was doing a great job of helping and got fouls. So that was the first time really in his career when he fouled out and I didn’t feel bad, like he did it upon himself. I thought he did a great job of playing the game.”

Jordan Geist was the standout player in the loss to the Rebels. The senior scored 23 points and had four rebounds, two steals and one assist. Freshman guard Xavier Pinson added 11 points and nine rebounds, his second consecutive game posting the numbers and barely missing a double-double.

Missouri is currently No. 11 in conference while Kentucky sits at No. 3 behind Tennessee and LSU.

“It’s another tough week,” Calipari said. “This league is good as any in the country and anybody you play has the chance to win. I don’t care what the matchup is, you’re not walking in thinking ‘we can get this one.’”

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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